A330-800neo from Kuwait Airways performs maiden flight

Longest-range variant of the Airbus widebody only holds 14 orders, including two aircraft for Uganda Airlines
Kuwait Airways signed a agreement with Airbus for eight units but de deal is not closed yet (Airbus)

Among several models of Airbus commercial aircraft there is a jet that has been ignored by airlines, the A330-800neo, the version with less capacity and greater autonomy of the renewed widebody. The aircraft has only 14 firm orders so far, a contrast compared to its “big brother”, the A330-900, which has accumulated 319 orders of which 46 have already been delivered.

But, despite its unpopularity with airlines, the A330-800 has evolved in its development program. On Friday, inclusive, the first series aircraft, which will be delivered to Kuwait Airways (its largest customer with eight units), made its maiden flight in France.

Previously scheduled for March, delivery of the airline’s first A330-800neo is expected to take place in the third quarter, while the rest of the planes will be received by 2026. With a small fleet, Kuwait Airways today flies with 10 Boeing 777-300 and five A330- 200 in its long-range fleet and which should give way to the new aircraft.

Few competitors

The lack of interest in the A330-800 is surprising, because its performance and capacity match the profile of several airlines. With more than 15,000 km range, the twin-engine aircraft can carry between 220 and 260 passengers, which means that it occupies a space between the 787-8 and the 787-9, the best-selling versions of the Boeing jet.

Vertical stabilizer of Uganda Airlines’ first A330-800neo (Airbus)

In addition to Kuwait, only Uganda Airlines has decided to order two units of the new jet – there are four undisclosed customer orders as well. This week an image of the vertical stabilizer of the company’s first A330-800 was revealed.

The African airline was recreated by the country’s government in 2019 with a fleet of just four CRJ-900 jets while it hopes to have its first long-range aircraft by 2021. Until then, the A330-800neo is unlikely to be the model with less Airbus sales.

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